|Yerevan Regional workshop for Armenian and Georgian NGOs on the UNECE Water Convention and its Protocol on Water and Health took place in Yerevan|
|News Waterfall - News Waterfall #7|
|Monday, 10 December 2012 12:22|
The regional workshop on “Raising awareness about the UNECE Water Convention and its Protocol on Water and Health and strengthening the role of the civil society organizations in their promotion and implementation” financed by UNECE and currently being implemented by the NGOs “Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment” (AWHHE) in partnership with Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) took place on 09 November 2012 in Yerevan, Republic of Armenia (RA).
The regional workshop aimed to increase awareness and involve a group of NGOs in the activities under the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health with the view to giving the public the opportunity to express its concerns and enabling public authorities to take due account of public concerns.
The event was attended by 30 representatives of different organizations, ministries and international and regional programs from Armenia and Georgia: the Ministry of Nature Protection of RA, the Ministry of Health of RA, the Ministry of Territorial Administration of Armenia, Office of Economic Growth — USAID Armenia, UNDP Climate Change Program, UNDP/GEF Project Transboundary Degradation in the Kura — Araks River Basin, Environmental Protection of International River Basins project, Scientific Center of Zoology and Hydroecology of NAS Armenia, Armenian and Georgian NGOs, the International Center for Environmental Research Georgia, WECF, and Caucasus Environmental NGO Network.
The presentations focused on the issues and solutions related to the implementation of the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health. The workshop covered several issues: National Policy Dialogue (NPD) on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) under the EU Water Initiative in Armenia; USAID input in sustainable water management; monitoring of the surface waters in Armenia; transboundary degradation in the Kura — Araks River Basin; integrated assessment of the quality of water resources of Armenia, particularly of Lake Sevan; IWRM and problems of the responsibility. Also was highlighted the situation on quality of drinking water, water-related health problems, target setting process in Armenia and Georgia, and experience exchange with the Georgian colleagues on the process of setting targets. The representatives of the Ministry of Nature Protection and Ministry of Health of Georgia submitted a presentation making a request to introduce the workshop participants to the results of the target setting process in Georgia.
After the presentations, discussions took place related to such issues as: river basin management plans for Armenia and Georgia; quality of surface waters, monitoring and EU Water Framework Directive; Water management plans and inclusion of the climate change components; bio-monitoring of species of water bodies; access to information, especially required from the water cadastre; pollution of water as a result of mining activities; and issues related to Lake Sevan.
The role of Lake Sevan was especially highlighted as the biggest drinking water reservoir for the whole Caucasus region as well for Iran and Turkey. During the last 80 years the lake has experienced a number of severe trials (e.g. the level of lake has been decreased about 20m) which brought it to the brink of ecological catastrophe. At present a lot of problems and risks, demanding complex research and science-based solutions, still exist. NGOs stressed the importance and the necessity to develop and implement a Lake Sevan Basin Management plan, including concerns about conserving biodiversity, clean-up actions for the lake, etc.
The discussions were held on the surface water monitoring. Maximum permissible concentrations are used as indicators for monitoring of surface water resources in Armenia. The rivers in Armenia are mainly mountanous and the background concentration for some elements is high. EU WFD is introduced in Armenia. Thus, the discussions were related to advantages and disadvantages of the MPCs and the new concepts of monitoring (categories of quality of water); and additional contamination of water bodies by mining activities.
Recommendations were made related to the situation in Armenia. Some of them, especially on Lake Sevan, were introduced in the statement of the European NGOs working on water related problems in CEE and EECCA countries, to be presented at the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Rome, 28–30 November 2012).
Opening of the workshop
Seyran Minasyan, Deputy Director, Environmental Effect Monitoring Center of the RA Ministry of Nature Protection
Detailed information on the workshop and presentations is available at the AWHHE’s website: http://awhhe.am/eng/regional_seminar2012.html and http://awhhe.am/arm/reg_seminar2012.html .